If you suffer from hot flashes but aren’t keen on hormone replacement therapy, you might feel that you just need to suck it up, buttercup. Hot flashes and night sweats are a natural part of midlife, right?

Good news: there is a natural way to deal with perimenopause and menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. It’s called black cohosh. And speaking of buttercups...

What is Black Cohosh?

Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is a member of the buttercup family native to the eastern part of North America. 

You might know black cohosh by its old Latin name (Cimicifuga racemosa) or one of its many old-timey names: snakeroot, black bugbane, rattleweed, macrotys, and rheumatism weed.

Or this might be the first time you’re hearing about it.

Black cohosh is the most widely used botanical for hot flashes and, unlike some botanic supplements, is an herb, not a phytoestrogen. Native Americans used it to treat a variety of ailments, from musculoskeletal pain to flu-like symptoms to women’s reproductive health. And there was the black cohosh-containing concoction created by Mrs. Lydia Pinkham which relieved menstrual and menopausal symptoms for American women between 1873 and 1906. 

Today, black cohosh is used to treat menopause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, and mood issues. 

Though you may think “pretty flower” when you think of the buttercup family, medicinal black cohosh comes from the roots and rhizomes, the underground stems, of the plant. You’ll find it prepared as powders, extract, teas, or in pill form. 

Scientists don’t know exactly which compounds in black cohosh treat menopause symptoms; it could be triterpene glycosides, resins, or aromatic acid derivatives. Because of this inconsistency, different products vary, and studies find varying results as to the root’s effectiveness. 

Does it work?

As with every supplement, results tend to be a mixed bag. What works brilliantly for one woman is less effective for another. Black cohosh has been considered effective for treating menopausal symptoms in the US for over fifty years, but clinical results vary.

Some studies conclude that black cohosh is indeed effective in treating hot flashes.

Clinical trials published in 2016 testing the therapeutic benefits of Iranian herbal medicine showed that black cohosh did reduce hot flashes and supported the use of herbal medicine as an alternative to modern medicine.

The European Union’s Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products supports the use of black cohosh to treat hot flashes based on 20 clinical studies involving more than 6,000 patients and “well-established use” in Europe.

Other studies say it isn't that effective. 

A 2006 study assigned 351 women with menopause symptoms aged 45-55 into five groups: 160 mg/day black cohosh (standardized to contain 2.5% triterpene glycosides), a multibotanical preparation containing 200 mg black cohosh along with other ingredients, the same multibotanical preparation plus two daily servings of 12-20 g soy protein, hormone therapy, and placebo.

After three, six, and twelve months, each of the herbal groups’ hot flashes and night sweats was no different from women who took the placebo, and after a year, the multibotanical-plus-soy group’s symptoms were worse.

A 2009 study split up 88 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women into four groups: one taking 128 mg/day black cohosh (5.7% triterpene glycosides), red clover, hormone therapy, and placebo.

The number of night sweats decreased in all groups at three, six, nine, and twelve months. The herbal and placebo groups reported the same results, except the black cohosh group, which showed worse symptoms at six and nine months.

And other studies support... further studies.

A 2012 review of 16 randomized trials involving a total of 2,027 women resulted in “insufficient evidence” to support or deny black cohosh effectiveness and advocated for further studies. 

Because so many women have told us they found relief from black cohosh, and because there are few to no side effects from responsible use from a credible provider, we have added a black cohosh supplement to our offerings for Gennev women.

Curious to give it a try?

Gennev’s Black Cohosh supplement comes in a vegetarian capsule free of common allergens, formulated by our team of OB/GYNs and Naturopathic doctors.

Each serving (1 capsule) contains 185 mg black cohosh root 185 mg and 1 mg black cohosh root and rhizome extract (standardized to contact 2.5% total triterpene glycosides).

As always, talk to your doctor (or one of ours) before adding supplements if you have pre-existing conditions or take medications that may be problematic. 

Have you tried black cohosh for help with hot flashes or night sweats? Let us know in a comment or share your experience in the Gennev Community Forums!